The children gasped in delight and their eyes lit up with wonder as each walked single file into an auditorium-style classroom at The University of Toledo.
The excited faces of more than two dozen third-, fourth- and fifth-graders bused from Old Orchard Elementary School were ready for the debut of UT’s College Mentors for Kids program.UT students matched with their “little buddies” from Toledo Public Schools for one-on-one mentoring on this first activity day of the school year. They will meet once a week on campus for two hours after school as a way to expose the children to higher education at a young age and also provide college students with leadership and growth opportunities.
Doryian Thames, a fourth-year student majoring in professional sales and marketing, serves as the president of the new UT organization.
“When I was a boy, mentors through the Boys and Girls Clubs of America had a big influence on me,” Thames said. “Mentors have a genuine chance to make an impact on someone’s life. This program is a direct opportunity to see how being an active role model to an individual can really change the trajectory of their future.”
One of the program goals is to expose children to a variety of career options. The theme of the inaugural week was pharmacy, and activities included making hand sanitizer.
“As an educator, it is imperative that we create opportunities to expose young scholars to what they can aspire to become,” Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, UT vice president for student affairs, said. “UT is committed to moving the student success needle forward by fostering environments for both mentors and little buddies to learn.”
UT launched a new chapter of the national College Mentors for Kids program in partnership with the Hylant Family Foundation.
“As native Toledoans, the Hylant family is thrilled to be sponsoring the new College Mentors for Kids chapter at The University of Toledo,” said Clare Hylant of the Hylant Family Foundation. “This program provides the opportunity to make a significant difference for the youth of Toledo, a true chance to change what they think is possible, and encourage them to reach for their dreams.”
“We are so excited for any additional support we receive from outside organizations that are helpful and benefits our students in further developing their college readiness,” Valerie Dreier, principal of Old Orchard Elementary School, said.
College Mentors for Kids is a nonprofit organization with a mission to connect college students with the most to give to kids who need it most. The organization operates 34 campus-based chapters across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
“We want kids to dream bigger and achieve higher,” said Carly Cox, associate director of programming for the national office of College Mentors for Kids. “Whether that means pursuing a career as a chef or a gardener or opening your own business, we want them to see beyond their neighborhood and see new potential.”